Monday, January 13, 2014


When I tell people that I was in the army, the first question is always, "Did you go to Iraq?  Afghanistan?".  When I inform them that I did deploy to Iraq for OIF VII, the question that always follows next is, "What was it like?".  People  may think that it is an easy question to answer, but quite the contrary, it is not.  What part of Iraq do you want to know about?  There are many.  Do you want to do what the social and family ties and the stresses it caused was like?  Do you want to know what war is like?  Or what about the countryside?  The people and the children?  Being a medic?  What part do you want to know about?  The part where I admit it broke me all to hell and I will never be the same again?    Which part?

 (And yes, I was on our company's football team in Iraq.  The only chic.  :)  Gotta find someway to pass the time and relax between mortar attacks...)

Humpty Dumpty.  There are many days where this nursery rhyme sums it all up for me.  Somewhere along the way in Iraq, I got sick.  VERY sick.  But with an illness no one can pinpoint.  Yes, I was diagnosed with PTSD.  But what about the seizures?  The tremors, the down right ATROCIOUS memory loss?  The stutter and speech issues?  The leg pain and weakness.. No one can tell me about that.  No one knows what caused it initially, if it is a life long illness I will have to contend with or if it will eventually go away.  Every day is a challenge. But at least I'm here.  I'm breathing, alive, surrounded by family.  Some of the guys I served with can't say the same...

I had Christmas and unwrapped gifts with my son over Skype.  He asked me every time I talked to him if the bad guys had bombed us that day and if any of my army team mates had gotten hurt.  No child should have to worry about politics and war...but my son did/does.  But at least I had the ability to have internet while deployed and had those luxuries; I know previous deployments weren't so lucky.

The sand/dust storms that would come up out of no where with the sporadic monsoon thrown in there as well.  Highs of 135*F and lows in the 30's.  Yes, we had snow over there too.  It didn't last long, but it was there.  If you put your face in front of a hot oven and just sit there...that's what it felt like.  But it was also quite beautiful in it's own right.  The majority of people were kind and wanted our help.  Children would line our patrol routes, patiently waiting for chocolate to be handed to them, or some other trinket/souvenier. 
Not all of Iraq was bad.

The  mortars every other night, the rocket attacks, and loosing your friends...THAT part sucked.

When you are talking to a Veteran and they tell you they've been to war, be considerate.  Rather than the first question out of your mouth being, "what was it like", first ask them if they would be willing/able to talk about it.  A lot of people can't talk about it because the flashbacks associated with their PTSD are too real. 

I guess, deployment and war, like with anything, is what you make of it.  No matter the situation, I try to find the silver lining.  It may take me some time to find the light and get to a point high enough where I can look down to look for that silver lining, but in the back of my head, I know it's there. 

When I get overwhelmed and it all seems like it's just too much to bare...I close my eyes, take a deep breath...and get my hands dirty.

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